Gastronomica – A collaboration quietly growing in number and breadth.

The whole topic of sustainability has come to sit on nearly every board’s agenda in the last two years. Investors today want to see strong strategies in place before investing as do many consumers, clients and guests. Over the last decade, since the London Olympics which really did raise the bar, sustainability has moved from being a periphery agenda item to one which is core.

With all the challenges facing hospitality at this moment; of course, food sustainability is also a subject on everyone’s lips.

Given this, it is no surprise that there has been widespread interest in the concept of Gastronomica as there is a desire to learn and discover more on the topic. Many do not feel knowledgeable on the subject and want to hear experts talk and provide insight. This does provide a rare opportunity to bring together expert speakers from around the world to talk and engage informally with the industry.

Since its launch, Gastronomica now has over 70 organisations interested in being involved. This alone shows the value of the initiative but if it can also provide a forum for those organisations to share ideas and knowledge, then it also showcases the value of collaboration in this era.

As of late May, EP is delighted to be launching monthly online forums at which an expert will talk on their insights and learnings on this subject.

There is so much change taking place across the industry and we are witnessing increasing numbers of issues which really do impact on operating models. These include:

· Investment. We are finding more and more investors will not invest unless there is a strong sustainability strategy at the heart of a business proposal. It has in the last two years become a norm.

· Supply Chain. There are more and more questioning the traditional supply chain and asking as to whether the dominant model of today still possesses longevity? What new alternatives are emerging and how does impact on both localism and the “farm to plate” desire which is growing? What new models are coming to the fore? How will food inflation and rising energy costs change buying habits?

· Fair Trade. Is Fair Trade really fair and can more be done? We are working with a leading tea merchant who is doubling the wages of those who work on the great tea plantations around the world. What is the definition of fair trade and can it be improved still further? As people drink less alcohol, so tea is seeing a growth of 27% a year. What is the forecast? Coffee is continuing to maintain great levels with the UK consuming over 95m cups.

· Technology and robotics will play an increasingly central role.

· Business models and change. There is an increasing focus on models which do offer stronger consumer experiences and are more immersive. In hotels, there is a change which breaks down the traditional divide between guests and the local community so the two come far closer together. This is manifesting itself in a number of ways from the development of working spaces in hotels to local restaurants operating onsite to even hotels possessing their own theatres, cultural and new health/sporting experiences.

· Greater social inclusivity. It can be argued that society is facing a great period of change as it does become more inclusive and diverse. How can we ensure that all talent is being developed as effectively as possible? More and more venues are wanting to ensure that they possess offers and destinations which appeal to all audiences, social groups and audiences.

· How city centres may change? There is growing evidence that numbers in city centres will return to high densities but with a difference. Interesting more retirees want to own properties in city centres so they are close to cultural centres and can be active socially as well as young generations. This, in turn, will ask for stronger and better living accommodations and improvements in travel infrastructures and more pedestrian areas. Hospitality though can still prosper and the data today is showing that the numbers of travel weekends into London are back to 2019 levels. It is simply traveling to work where there is a lag.

These are only a few of the questions and changes coming to the fore. We are privileged to be involved in many discussions on changing models, perspectives and ideas. Our hope with Gastronomica is to create forums which explore these ideas and build a strong collaboration at the heart.

We look forward to your coming and joining the conversation. Our aim is to make this a global discussion; one where we can learn from others from all across the world.